Beyond triple corks: An opinion on the current state of snowboarding big air

Let me start by saying I cannot do a triple cork, will never do a triple cork, nor do I have any desire to ever do one. The level of talent required to perform this trick is extraordinary and it is not my intention to reduce the magnitude of that fact. However, when I posted Mark McMorris’ X Games 2015 Big Air gold medal jumps on Facebook last night, many of you were quick to criticize the triple cork with some interesting points. I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss some of those criticisms.

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The most popular grievance in the Facebook comment section was how there is no style for a triple cork and to an extent, I agree. It is no easy feat to stylize something while spinning 1440 degrees and flipping three times. I have to believe that most of the riders are concentrating more on somehow spotting the landing during a disorienting whirlwind of spins and not cushioning a fall with their head. But from my perspective as a spectator, watching this triple cork exhibition isn’t the most entertaining snowboarding I have ever seen. Though insane, each jump looked largely the same, almost to the point of being sterilized.

What makes style so fun to watch is every rider has a different one. In the competitors’ defense, Sven Thorgren was mixing it up with by grabbing roast beef, Max Parrot was changing grabs mid-air, and Sage Kotsenburg spinning backside off his heels was sick. But these were the outliers of the evening. For a judge, how do you determine if the mechanics of one triple cork is better than another? Yes, you can takeoff switch or backside but when it comes down to it, a triple is a triple. As I discussed with a friend last night over a Budweiser, with the airtime these guys were getting they could have put some serious style into even a double cork.

Now comes the question that has been asked countless times before: What’s next? A bigger jump? From a physics standpoint, this is unlikely. A quad cork? The IOC would probably let Big Air into the Olympics with its similarity to aerial skiing. Short of having riders jump through a ring of fire, I believe that we are damn close to the ceiling in terms of progression if we haven’t already reached it.

Answering that question isn’t up to me, it’s left to the riders. Mark McMorris, Ståle Sandbech, Torstein Horgmo, Yuki Kadono, Sage, Sven, Max, and all of the other competitors, you have the incredible power to steer the direction of snowboarding Big Air. Ståle, I wanted to see you go melon to method. I wanted to see a bloody dracula. The absence of Halldor Helgason’s lobster flip and overall approach to snowboarding was particularly felt last night. Even if one of you could do a quad cork, is that best thing for snowboarding?

I wrote this story with the hope of spurring meaningful discussion about the future of Big Air competitions. If you have an opinion, whether you agree or think I’m full of shit, please comment below.

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